Peers Versus Pros: Confirmation Bias in Selective Exposure to User-Generated Versus Professional Media Messages and Its Consequences

Axel Westerwick, Daniel Sude, Melissa Robinson, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Political information is now commonly consumed embedded in user-generated content and social media. Hence, peer users (as opposed to professional journalists) have become frequently encountered sources of such information. This experiment tested competing hypotheses on whether expo`sure to attitude-consistent versus -discrepant political messages (confirmation bias) depends on association with peer versus professional sources, through observational data and multi-level modeling. Results showed the confirmation bias was differentiated, as attitude importance fostered it only in the peer sources condition: When consuming user-generated posts on political issues, users showed a greater confirmation bias the more importance they attached to a specific political issue. Furthermore, exposure generally affected attitudes in line with message stance, as attitude-consistent exposure reinforced attitudes, while attitude-discrepant exposure weakened them (still detectable a day after exposure). Attitude impacts were mediated by opinion climate perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-536
Number of pages27
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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